An Open Letter to Nervous Parents

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Paige Picou will be serving as the University Center for Advising and Counseling POL. She is a Junior Psychology major from Houma, Louisiana. She is involved with LSU Ambassadors, Psi Chi, Freshman Leadership Council, and STRIPES. Her favorite spot on campus is the Bookstore.

Entering college is a time filled with nervousness, excitement, and hopes for the future. While students are packing their things, scheduling their classes, and planning for the experience they’ll have at LSU, there are obviously a lot of emotions involved in the process. However, while most of the attention is rightfully placed on the students themselves, people often forget that this is a very emotional time for the parents as well.

I know as my parents were moving me into my residence hall before the start of my freshman year, they were also filled with excitement for me, nervousness about how well I would adjust, and worries for our future. Not only did they want me to be successful and happy, but this was also the first time in my life that we hadn’t all lived under the same roof, and I know they were going to miss me as much or more than I missed them.PAige blog 1

I can only imagine the stress that goes along with sending your child away to college, but as a student who has faced this experience with my own family, I can assure you that your child can succeed here. LSU has worked tirelessly to try to create programs that can help students academically. The Center for Academic Success provides free walk-in tutoring to students for any subject that they are struggling in. Additionally, supplemental instructors are provided for classes that are typically difficult for students. These supplemental instructors are students who have already taken this particular class and made an A in it and then retake that class to help the new students. They will hold review sessions twice a week with worksheets and a more relaxed environment where students can discuss class material with other students. In addition to the academic resources that this university offers, LSU also has over 400 organizations for students to get involved in, and all of these organizations can be found at www.lsu.edu/tigerlink.

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Of course, there will still be times when your student will be frustrated and unsure of what to do next in a particular situation, and there will also be times when your tiger can’t wait to tell you all about the good grade on a test or the great day he or she had. While it can be upsetting to hear that your family members are having a rough day and not be able to immediately fix the situation, I think being a support system for your student is the best thing you can do for him or her. I know that when I want to vent, simply having my parents to listen to and understand what I’m feeling is a great comfort to me because it validates my feelings and makes me feel like I am not alone. They can’t fix all of my problems for me, but they are always there to listen and help me figure out how to solve my problems on my own.

I can assure you that all of the wisdom, advice, and values that you have instilled in your child have prepared him or her to make his or her own decisions here. Your child will absolutely still make mistakes, but with your guidance, your tiger can learn from these mistakes to be even better individuals in the future.

 

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Learning to Appreciate the Helicopter Parent

Cam photoCameron Frazier will be serving as the 2016 Head Parent Orientation Leader. He is a Senior Mechanical Engineering major from Lacassine, Louisiana. He is an LSU Ambassador and has also been involved with STRIPES, Student Government, and LSU Lacrosse. His favorite spot on campus is Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.

Four springs ago, I sat in a vehicle on my way to Louisiana State University to attend the annual Spring Invitational, an event dedicated to recruiting and orienting high achieving students across the nation. It felt like the first big step in what would be an incredible journey for me on this campus. For reference, I am the only child of two incredibly loving and caring parents. For reasons I probably don’t need to explain here, they can be a bit… hands on when it comes to big steps in my life. Attending this University, as mentioned, was definitely such a step. I’ve learned along the way that this tendency to be so active in my affairs is okay.

Back to Spring Invitational, or SPIN as it is frequently called on campus. As I began to see and experience so many wonderful things this campus has to offer, I was overcome with the urge to be free. I wanted the upcoming fall to begin immediately so I could be on my own and tackle a million and one things. However, fall wasn’t close and I was still a part of our household of three. I wish I knew how many times during those few days I thought or mumbled “Ugh Mom.” She asked questions, she worried, and she probed me every step of the way. I can’t even imagine what she must have been experiencing as the day I would leave suddenly became painfully near. Being the stubborn child I am, though, I only saw my Mom “hovering” over me and wondered when it would end. Fast-forward through several years of wonderful experiences and it turns out that it still hasn’t. But stubborn ol’ Cam learned to appreciate it, not loathe it.

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The reality is this: The transition into any University from a steady environment can be difficult for every party involved. Parents and guardians will miss their student. Students will miss home and likely never admit such a thing is occurring. Trust me when I say that there is NO reason that interactions between students and family should suffer. My parents are still as involved in my day-to-day as they were then. They still offer to shelter and protect me from two hours away. They are always calm ears I can pursue when I am in need of listening. And yes, at times they still “hover.” Your student will learn to appreciate this readiness to aid and willingness to love eventually. I encourage every family member to allow their student to come to this University and pursue their dreams; never hinder their ability to move forward. But don’t disappear either. We need you. We will always need you. We are here because of you. Allow us to fly and I promise our flight path will bring us back to you.

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Being a First Generation Student

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DaMika Woodard will be serving as the POL for the College of Art and Design. She is a Senior from DeRidder, Louisiana. She is majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy. She is involved in LSU Ambassadors, STRIPES, and Association of Pre-Physical Therapy Students. Her favorite spot on campus is Middleton Library. 

Being a first generation student is a great accomplishment that comes with a lot of pride, and a lot of pressure. I was proud to be the first person in my family to go to a four year university, but I also felt pressured to succeed. Statistically, the odds were not in my favor. It was reported that first generation students are the least likely to graduate from four year universities; I did not want that to be my story. Growing up, I watched my mom bounce from job to job to provide for my siblings and I. My mother always told me things such as: “nothing is ever going to be given to you, you have to work for it. The world is yours, you just have to go and get it!” She constantly stressed the importance of education to us and made sure that we excelled academically. Thanks to her consistency, I graduated from DeRidder High School in 2013 in the top 15 percent of my class, and didn’t stop there! In the Fall of 2013, I began my journey as an LSU Tiger, which was a bittersweet transition for my mother and I. We were excited for this new chapter of my life, but also nervous; this was not only my first taste of college, but hers as well.

My first semester was challenging; not only academically, but in my personal life as well. I had trouble networking with others and keeping my parents up to date on information and events. In addition to those problems, I did not know how to properly study, manage my time, or how to handle my own finances. While trying to juggle it all, I came to the realization that I needed extra help; I could not do this alone. Thankfully, LSU has a service called Student Support Services. At the SSS, their mission is to work directly with first generation students from their freshman orientation to their graduation.

Damika PictureThey have services that teach the students about money management,studying styles, as well as time management. They also offer weekly tutoring sessions and peer mentors, who are first generation students, too. This made things easier because I was surrounded by people who understood me and could give me the extra help that I knew I needed. There are many times that I felt overwhelmed, but my on-campus support system encouraged me to keep going. Now, I am set to graduate in December of 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology. In the words of my mother, “The world is yours, you just have to go and get it.”
 

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Freshman Survival Guide: Changing Majors

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Chandler Wall will be serving as the POL for Music and Dramatic Arts and the College of Agriculture. He is a Junior from Dallas, Texas. He is a Human Resources and Education major with a concentration in Leadership. He is involved with LSU Ambassadors and his favorite spot on campus is Mike’s Habitat. 

Changing your major is quite common to the average college student. I personally have changed my major a total of 4 times now and almost every time I had to change my senior college. I would think that this next one would be the major I graduate with, but each time I would realize that it wasn’t for me.  After I realized that my third major change wasn’t what I hoped it would be, I decided that it was time for me to change again. Except this time was different, this time I felt lost. This time I wasn’t changing my major because I found something I felt I liked better.

Chandler BlogI didn’t know what I wanted anymore, or what the best fit for me was. I just knew that I wasn’t happy in that major anymore. It was a terrifying feeling. I had just finished my sophomore year of college, now half way through my college career and I no longer knew what I wanted to do. I went and talked to my friends about what I should do next and they all said the same thing, “Pay a visit to the Olinde Career Center.” I had heard about it in the past but had never been there myself. I didn’t realize that I walked by it almost everyday in the Student Union. I wasn’t sure if it would be able to solve all my problems, but I knew that it was definitely worth a try.

When the new school year was starting I walked in and set up an appointment with a career counselor. She sat me down and we talked for a long while until she had a grasp on my situation. From there we started from scratch, we looked at many different majors offered by each college at LSU. She could tell that our conversation wasn’t getting me any closer to figuring out what I wanted to do. She then proposed that I take on online test known as the Strong Test. This test would help to tell me what kind of work style I had, what jobs would really suit me, which jobs wouldn’t, it even told me whaChandler Blog 3t majors I would work well in. So I went and took the test and I would meet back with her once the results came in.

About a week later, I went to meet her again to look at my results. I was surprised to see my test results were a stack of papers half an inch thick. They were telling me things about myself that I never realized and options that I had never even considered. We talked until I could narrow it down to three majors. Then I went and spoke to each senior college to weigh my options. Eventually I choose to go with Human Resources and Education. Words couldn’t describe the feeling of relief I had now that I had a major and a plan again. Sometimes people realize that they actual don’t want to major in what they came to college to study and that is okay. It’s better to realize this early during your undergrad, instead of a week before graduation or even after. The LSU Olinde Career Center is there for this specific purpose and it should definitely be utilized, because it definitely can’t hurt.

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Getting Involved

Charlie POL pciCharlie Loupe will be serving as the POL for the College of Science and the School of Coast and Environment. He is a Junior from Slidell, Louisiana. He is involved in LSU Ambassadors and Beta Theta Pi. His favorite spot on campus is the Law School front steps over looking the Bell Tower and Tiger Stadium.

Getting involved on campus is very important in your student’s college career. Most parents tell their student they have to be in the library from morning until night studying so they can do the best that they possibly can. While it is great to be dedicated to your school work and make school the number one priority, your student needs something else in their life that allows them to get away from school for a second. I know that it sounds scary for your child to not think about school constantly, but I have learned that it’s healthy to get involved in college for several reasons.

Unfortunately, as your student progresses through college they will be stressed about a certain number of things. Through experience I have learned that when I am only preoccupied with one thing I tend to over think the situations I get in to, whether it’s tests, quizzes, or homework, and worry about them. In my first semester I knew no one at LSU, even though I am from Louisiana. I cried every now and then, calling my parents to tell them how scared I was. My mom always comforted me and said to go out there and meet other students so I could feel more comfortable at LSU. She was extremely persistent in making sure I went to get involved on campus. So the beginning weeks of college were rough for me until I decided to get involved.

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When I was attempting to decide which organization I should join I was lost. I searched everywhere looking for something that would suit me. I was constantly reminded of how awesome the LSU Ambassadors were and how much of a close-knit group they were; especially by my mother from her orientation experience. So, I decided to give it a shot even though I was not very fond of the idea of getting involved. I was terrified when I started the process of applying and trying out for Ambassadors. As I went through the selection process and interviews I met, what are now, the greatest friends I have ever had. After being selected to be an LSU Ambassador I was so excited because I finally found my place at LSU and could also call LSU my home away from home.

As an LSU Ambassador, whenever I served the community or those who were guests at LSU I felt so full of joy and happiness, which relieved most of my stress about schoolwork. Also, after making several friends within Ambassadors I felt more comfortable at LSU to the point where I could be more successful in my classes. This was proven true when I finished my first and second semester with a 4.0 GPA. It required me to work a little hard
than I had to, but the hard work showed me how to be dedicated to something you love.

charlie 3  Understanding that getting involved is just as important as your schoolwork is a difficult concept for some to grasp, but trust me it is extremely important. Personally, I find it imperative that students get involved in any way they can in order to be more successful at LSU. It does not have to happen your first semester if it makes you feel that uncomfortable, but a large part of college is stepping far out of your comfort zone and growing as a person. So please tell your students to not be afraid to feel uncomfortable and find their place on campus. It is the perfect formula for being successful at LSU and being able to proudly say, “I am an LSU Tiger”.

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How I Made LSU My Home

Mel pic Mel Cotchery will be serving as the EJ Ourso College of Business POL. She is a Business Management major from Baton Rouge. She is involved in LSU Ambassadors and Black Student Union. Her favorite spot on campus is the Quad where she enjoys writing poetry. 

I would first like to start off by saying welcome to the Tiger family!! You and your student just made one of the best decisions of your lives. Just a little over a year ago, I was that first year student, and I had yet to learn that this was true. At that time, I did not even want to attend Louisiana State University, but now, it is my home.

While I was not born in Baton Rouge, I have lived here for most of my life, and therefore have been surrounded by the LSU football culture for over a decade now. I always cheered and rooted for the athletes in purple and gold, but I simply wanted a new experience. I wanted to branch out and move away. (Thankfully) things didn’t work out that way.

When it comes to college, everyone gets a fresh start. In a short amount of time, I learned that no matter how close your hometown is to your college campus, it will not affect your ability to adapt at a quicker (or slower) pace. Louisiana State University was a large adjustment for me, even though I am from right here in the capital city. The trick to kicking those first-year jitters is to explore. What are all your goals? What will you do to achieve them? What are your hobbies and how can you MELblog pic 1perfect your craft? What will make you comfortable in this new environment? These are questions that students should begin asking themselves. The answers can be found right here on campus, you just have to look.

Part of what makes your home your home is the comfort you feel. LSU wants you to feel comfortable and thrive in being yourself, which is why there are over 400 organizations offered on campus. Joining an organization or club makes your transition to college easier and more enjoyable. This was the major key in the start of my love life with LSU.

After watching the performance the orientation leaders put on at orientation last year, I knew that I wanted to be an LSU ambassador. I stayed in the loop and walked through Free Speech Plaza waiting to learn about them one day. Becoming a member of this wonderful organization not only satisfied my desire to serve my community, but in return it gave me amazing peers and a family at school.

If your student is not sure about all of organizations offered to them, I would recommend that you inform them about tigerlink.com. This website lists the numerous possibilities for getting involMel Blog pic 2ved on campus and presents a brief summary of what you could expect.

While getting involved is the number one tip I can give, that is not the only way to feel cozy. Sometimes, students want to take their first year to let everything sink in; there is nothing wrong with that! If groups and clubs aren’t for you, I would advise making new friends. Becoming friends with your classmates makes attending class more enjoyable, it provides you with a study group and if something comes up to where you miss class, you’ll be able to get the notes from that peer. A+ here you come!

Something I appreciate about my university is the constant communication they have with the students; we are always in the loop! Every student receives a registered email, and this is where they will receive a substantial amount of information about all things Tiger-related. Emails about tutoring, shows in the theatre, or even free food are sent to all students, letting us all know what we can expect in the near future. These events are great for mingling and winding down after a long week of school. Every student should definitely attend at least one event, especially their freshman year; you’ll soon see why this is the best university in the world!

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With all that being said, everything you and your student needs is here. There is a place for every single person on this campus and room for us all to flourish. If I, a person who had LSU at the bottom of her list of desired colleges, came to bleed purple and gold in a matter of weeks, I know that anyone can. Tell your student to take advantage of what is being offered to them; it’s the best way to make this house a home.

Sincerely, Mel Cotchery, a proud Tiger

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Meet the 2016 Parent Orientation Leaders

Orientation is a great opportunity for students to learn more about their college experience. However, orientation is not just for the students. One of the great aspects of LSU orientation is the Parent Orientation program. Parent and Family Orientation is a great opportunity for Families to learn more about what LSU has to offer. Along with many great presentations and informational sessions, parents will meet student leaders known as Parent Orientation Leaders also known as POLs. We’re so excited to meet you!

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Cameron Frazier will be serving as the 2016 Head Parent Orientation Leader. He is a Senior Mechanical Engineering major from Lacassine, Louisiana. He is an LSU Ambassador and has also been involved with STRIPES, Student Government, and LSU Lacrosse. His favorite spot on campus is Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. His advise for parents is to try not to fear the unknown that may come with leaving your tiger. Whether it’s the first time dropping him or her off at their dorm or after a long break or holiday with your third-year tiger, stepping back is never easy I’m sure. As a child of the ultimate helicopter parents, I can assure you the growth your child will experience here will be invaluable and unlike anything they can achieve elsewhere. So don’t be scared, step back and trust this wonderful place. And I’ll let you in on a secret: We may never admit it, but the more time that we spend away, the more we enjoy the time we spend with you. A win-win!

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Stacey Ahlemeyer will be serving as the POL for Mass Communications. She is a Junior from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a Child and Family Studies major with a minor in Psychology. She is an LSU Ambassador and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She is also a current member of STRIPES staff and a former LSU Liaison. Her favorite spot on campus is the first floor of Middleton Library. Her advice to parents is if your student is calling you to complain about a problem, they don’t necessarily want you to fix the problem, sometimes they just want someone to listen. College is the time for self-development. The best thing a parent can do during this time is support their student.

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Jasmine Bellard will be serving as the POL for the University Center for Freshman Year. She is a Sophomore Psychology major originally born in Landstuhl, Germany to a military family. She is involved with LSU ambassadors  and her favorite spot on campus is the Parade Ground. Her advice to parents is your tiger is in for the experience of a lifetime. Although they are leaving home to become and adult, your baby will always be your baby. Make sure you and your tiger are constantly building communication, trust, and respect.

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Mel Cotchery will be serving as the EJ Ourso College of Business POL. She is a Business Management major from Baton Rouge. She is involved in LSU Ambassadors and Black Student Union. Her favorite spot on campus is the Quad where she enjoys writing poetry. Her advice to parents is to relax and breathe. Everything will be fine! Your student is getting a great education, they are safe, and they are just a phone call away. They’ll miss you just as much as you’ll miss them!

Lauren POL pic Lauren Hampton will be serving as the Human Sciences and Education POL. She is a Senior from Shreveport, LA. She is a Kinesiology Major with a Concentration in Physician’s assistant. She is involved in LSU Ambassadors and LSU Athletics. Her favorite spot on campus is the Quad. Her advice to parents is to encourage your child through their struggles and be that listening ear your student may need from time to time. Start to understand when your students need to be parented and when they need their “mom & dad” because they’ll miss them even if they don’t say it. College can be tough and you’re their biggest support system through their next years here at LSU.

Kim POL picKim Jalilian will be serving as the Engineering POL. She is a Junior Biology major from Denham Springs, Louisiana. She is involved with LSU Ambassadors and is also a  current STRIPES leader. Her favorite spot on campus is the Bell Tower. Her advice to parents is to take initiative and stay involved. College kids can be forgetful and as much as we want you to know what’s going on, we may forget to tell you!

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Christian Ledet will be serving as the Humanities and Social Sciences POL. She is a Junior Psychology major from Houma, Louisiana. She is involved with Delta Delta Delta, Freshman Leadership Council, STRIPES, Student Government, and LSU Liaisons. Her favorite spot on campus is the Quad. Her advice to parents is that LSU is always here for your students! LSU offers many resources to make sure your students succeed. From orientation to graduation, LSU is here for you and your student every step of the way.

 

Charlie POL pci Charlie Loupe will be serving as the POL for the College of Science and the School of Coast and Environment. He is a Junior from Slidell, Louisiana. He is involved in LSU Ambassadors and Beta Theta Pi. His favorite spot on campus is the Law School front steps over looking the Bell Tower and Tiger Stadium. His advice to parents is to always remember that it is okay if your student makes a mistake. They will make a mistake, and that is a part of the college experience. The important part is to make sure they learn from their mistakes because that is how they will make the most of their time here at LSU. Also, always be there for them when they are stressed out or feeling down because a phone call from parents goes a long way.

Paige pic Paige Picou will be serving as the University Center for Advising and Counseling. She is a Junior Psychology major from Houma, Louisiana. She is involved with LSU Ambassadors, Psi Chi, Freshman Leadership Council, and STRIPES. Her favorite spot on campus is the Bookstore. Her advice to parents is to try to be there for your student in whatever way possible! College can be stressful at times for students, and sometimes simply listening to your student vent during a phone call or guiding them through a sticky situation can help them much more than you may think!

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Chandler Wall will be serving as the POL for Music and Dramatic Arts and the College of Agriculture. He is a Junior from Dallas, Texas. He is a Human Resources and Education major with a concentration in Leadership. He is involved with LSU Ambassadors and his favorite spot on campus is Mike’s Habitat. His advice to parents is to have a discussion with your tiger about this new chapter in their life and what they are starting.

DaMika pic DaMika Woodard will be serving as the POL for the College of Art and Design. She is a Senior from DeRidder, Louisiana. She is majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy. She is involved in LSU Ambassadors, STRIPES, and Association of Pre-Physical Therapy Students. Her favorite spot on campus is Middleton Library. Her advice to parents is to trust your student and also believe that you have taught your student how to be a successful adult.

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So Long, Farewell, to You My Friend!

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Meet Meagan Johnson, a Senior majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism. She is also minoring in History and Political Science and is from Hackberry, Louisiana. Meagan is involved in LSU Ambassadors, Collegiate 4-H, University Baptist Church and served as a Parent Orientation Leader this past summer.

Louisiana State University has become more than just a school for me. It is a place I call home and a place that has given me more than I could ever give in return. With my last finals week at LSU coming to an end, I have begun looking back on my time here. I can see all of the opportunities LSU has brought into my life from life-long friends, impacting professors, the opportunity to study abroad, life changing organizations and memories of it all to last a life time. It is really hard to believe that my time at LSU is coming to an end, but I am looking forward to the last experience I get to have at LSU with many of my closest friends dressed in caps and gowns.

In many ways, it is surreal to me that I will actually be getting a diploma next week. I have dreamed of this day for many years and now that it is here I have mixed feeling about it. I am excited that all of my stressing, studying, late nights and prayers are about to pay off as I officially earn my degree. However, I will miss all of the memories I made here and the people that have made my time at LSU so special. I am a very lucky girl to have had so many great experiences here and I do not want it to end just yet.

I cannot express how grateful I am to everyone that has helped me through this experience. I would not be graduating or attending law school in the fall without the constant support and guidance. Getting to have this last experience with my friends that started with me in 2012 is the perfect way to end our journey at LSU. We can look back on this experience with a smile and look ahead to our adventures to come!

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To SPIN or not to SPIN

Meet Troi Benjamin, a IMG_9156Human Resource Education major, Leadership and Development concentration, Business Administration minor, from New Orleans, Louisiana. Involved in LSU Ambassadors, currently an Associate chair for the Orientation committee, student worker for the Office of Orientation.

Spring Invitational: An orientation for outstanding students who are invited to participate in this prestigious event. Spring Invitations’ staff is dedicated to the students to ensure an exceptional time and aiding in recruiting the future tigers. There are added benefits to coming to Spring Invitational besides having a summer to yourself. Students who attend Spring Invitational have the opportunity of receiving college credit before attending college, scheduling classes with first priority, and enjoying the extraordinary company of other high achieving students.

During Spring Invitational, there are many resources for the exceptional students to hear about in addition to seeing their college advisors more than once to guide them on the journey to scheduling classes. Every student is broken into groups based on a random selection within their senior college, this allows for students to meet potential classmates and/or friends.

I did not get the opportunity to be an attendee of Spring Invitational, but has not been a barrier to my passion of Orientation. I have served many different roles for Spring Invitational over the past 3 years of being an LSU Ambassador. I began as an Orientation Leader in 2013, moved into being a College Leader in 2014, and I currently hold one of the Associate Chair positions, while working for the Office of Orientation.

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Associate Chair Role: Working as one of the associate chairs for Spring Invitational allowed me to see the program from another angle. There are more aspects to Spring Invitational than just being an Orientation Leader and serving the students directly. As one of the Associate chairs, I was aided in assigning all volunteers who worked Spring Invitational. This position allowed me to understand how if one piece of the puzzle is missing, you do not have to panic but adjust your puzzle.

Student Assistant Role: I originally believed that there wasn’t much student interaction done between the student assistants and the students attending Spring Invitational, but oh was I wrong! As a student worker every day of Spring Invitational we are set up in the Orientation Headquarters to answer any and every questions asked by a future tiger or parent. We as the Office of Orientation are here for the assisting of every individual at Orientation.

My word of advice to all students who get invited to Spring Invitational would be to dive in to SPIN and allow the potential memories to take over and fall in love with being an LSU Tiger who will bleed Purple and Gold 24/7!AMB Photo

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Why STRIPES?

IMG_3286Bio: English major, Junior, from Marshall, Texas. Involved in LSU Ambassadors, served as a STRIPES small group leader for 2 years, currently serving on executive staff

STRIPES bio: extended orientation program focusing on history and traditions, spirit, and making students feel more at home and have a more personal or intimate connection with campus and with other future tigers. It stands for Student Tigers Rallying Interacting and Promoting Education and Service.

Take it from someone who heard about STRIPES and said “Ew. That sounds lame.” STRIPES is worth your time. Though I was never a participant at STRIPES, this program has shaped me and changed me more than I can express in 500 words or less. However, this isn’t about me, is it? It’s about you. And how STRIPES can change your life like it changed mine.

S is for spirit.

I don’t necessarily mean cheer camp or fired up spirit. While this program is fun and energetic, it instills a sense of pride for LSU that doesn’t have to be loud and noisy. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, there are parts of the program that can show you how sweet it can be to be a tiger.

Just an example, all participants get a little card with the lyrics to the LSU alma mater, and line by line, we sing it together. What a resource. I was mumbling those lyrics for a solid year and a half after football games, and knowing that it said “worth” and not “birth” would have been handy.

T is for tradition.

Did you know that LSU is one of the only universities with a land grant, a sea grant, and a space grant? Did you know that we have the Indian Mounds on campus, a landmark older than the Egyptian pyramids? Did you know that Death Valley started our as a residence hall and somehow was magically converted a football stadium by Governor Huey P. Long?

LSU’s history is full of wild, interesting tidbits, making it a unique university with tons of interesting fun facts. And while I might be a little partial, I think ours are more interesting than any other school in the SEC – two words for you Bama, GEAUX and TIGERS.

But I digress. All of these interesting tidbits are things that I learned from the STRIPES program.

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R is for respect.

There are 30,000 students on this campus and they all come from different walks of life. Aspects of the program focus on getting students to see from the perspectives of others, and to unite the student body. No matter our gender, racial identity, sexuality, political party, or economic class, we’re all tigers. That’s something we can’t forget when starting a new chapter.

I have seen STRIPES give students the pen they needed to keep writing that chapter. Students can leave with a respect not only for their campus, but for the 30,000 beautiful individuals that call it home.

I is for intelligence.

STRIPES works with LSU’s Center for Academic Success and the Olinde Career Center to give students resources to help them succeed for their first semester and beyond. One of my favorites is the Learning Style Preference Assessment, where students are given strategies that are individualized to help them learn to the best to their own ability. Also, students get to see the faces of the workers at those offices, opening doors for them to be unafraid to ask for help.

P is for people.

This is my favorite letter because the people at STRIPES are some of the programs greatest assets. STRIPES has over 60 qualified student leaders that come from every corner of campus. These student leaders take on the role of mentorship for participants, for the program and beyond.

Staff aside, students are put into small groups that go through the program together.   There is something special about watching groups go from painful small talk to camaraderie in four short days. I have no idea how it happens, but somehow I have found every small group I have ever had laughing while eating breakfast without student leaders  having to drive the conversation.

squad being cute

E is for eats.

Okay, honestly maybe this is my favorite letter. STRIPES is catered by some of Baton Rouge’s best restaurants and caterers – they believe and invest in the program and I thank them from the bottom of my heart and stomach. One new part of the program – GEAUXchella – is a Baton Rouge appreciation festival that will bring in restaurants from the Baton Rouge area to show students that Baton Rouge has cool things for students off of campus as well as on campus.

S is for stories.

Before my freshman year of college, I though STRIPES was lame. Let’s blame that on me being uncomfortable at LSU. Stripes showed me that whether LSU was my first choice (which it wasn’t) or at the bottom of my back-ups (which it was), there was something I could find on campus that would not only make me successful on campus, but make me feel like I belonged in the midst of 30,000 terrifying strangers. While this was comforting as a sophomore, it would have been a real life-saver as a freshman.

Thus ends my plea. As a group leader, I have seen this program do amazing things for students. And it’s my firm belief that it can do that for anyone. As a small group leader, I have met so many people and learned their stories, and those stories have pushed me, inspired me, and given me so much confidence that I am in the right place.

If you’re on the fence, give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

 

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